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Ancient texts

Livius: (27.34-50)
(28.9, 38, 40-51)
(29.4,10,11,15,16,37)
Polybius: (11.1-3, 31-33)

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War in Africa

2nd Punic war in Italy 208-204 bc


Livius's talent for drama
As a result of the Licinian law there had to be elected one patrician and one plebeian as a consul. This year (207) this caused problems. One patrician, G. Claudius Nero, seemed to be a good consul It proved very difficult to find a good plebeian to complete the couple and the senate meant M. Livius (Salinator) would be a good candidate, even if these two men were not really on speaking terms. M. Livius appeared in a squalid dress, his hair and beard allowed to grow, and exhibiting in his countenance and attire the deep impression of the disgrace he had sustained (Livius 27.34) All this because, in his opinion, he had been unjust condemned after his victory over the Illyrians in 219 bc. But now he was proposed consul to the people and elected. All fully against his will but he obeyed and his star would rise (and fall) again. Another problem was the two men were also personal enemies. The senate made the two men reconcile. Livius was sent north with an army to await Hannibal's brother Hasdrubal, who by now would have reached the Alps with his army.

A new impulse in the Punic war: Hasdrubal passes the Alps
Hasdrubal who had cleverly waited for the spring before he crossed the Alps, made his move without any difficulty. The peoples he had to pass knew by now what the Punic war was about and he was not their enemy. It seem he even expanded his army with recruits of theirs. But sadly, for him, he had not the tactical genius of his brother and instead of hurrying his army to join his brother he waisted time by attacking and besieging Placentia. This delay gave Livius time to move his army in place.

Claudius Nero's revenge on Hasdrubal
Consul G. Claudius Nero was sent to South Italy to check Hannibal's moves. He dogged Hannibal's trail and attacked him at every not too risky opportunity. One day his men captured a messenger from Hasdrubal to Hannibal. When the message had been translated he knew Hasdrubal proposed his brother to join the armies in Umbria and to fight together in this war. In that same night Claudius Nero, who had not forgotten how Hasdrubal had humiliated him, left with a force of 6000 men to join Livius's army. He sneaked out to prevent Hannibal of following him. After some stretched marches and a lot of help from the cities he passed, he arrived at his colleague, who he had made known his coming. in the middle of the night. The next day Hasdrubal's army was beaten and Hasdrubal himself killed in the Battle of the Metaurus. A few days later Hasdrubal's head was thrown into Hannibal's camp. The senate granted both consuls a triumph, but since their combined operations and the fact Nero's troops had to remain in South Italy to check Hannibal, they also combined their triumph. This seemed to conclude the reconciliation of the two men; seemed.....

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